Nintendo has to compete with two more machines this fall, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, both launching in November. It's part of Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime's job description to be unfazed by that. Here's his take on the pending competition:
"I don't think consumers buy hardware just because it's sexy and new," he told me during a phone interview earlier this week. "I think consumers buy hardware because of the experiences they can have on them. That's why, for us, having a strong holiday line-up is so critically important."
I wondered how he thought those new systems would fare.
"You know, to a certain extent, how they perform is going to come down to the clarity of their proposition, their execution," he said. "There are a lot of variables out there, and that's for my friends over at Microsoft and Sony to go figure out. My job is to drive Nintendo products and make sure we have a great holiday."
Nintendo's own new console, the Wii U, experienced a challenging launch last November, and many industry pundits have blamed Nintendo for making its own problems. Nintendo itself has blamed its failure to deliver a steady flow of good games. (They're trying to change that.) At launch, though, no console has a lot of games. That's the nature of launches.
Fils-Aime: "Systems that generate pretty pictures by themselves aren't selling propositions," he said, "and all you need to do is look at the last generation to see the evidence.
What does appear to be clear, though, is that the Xbox One and PS4 will have more advanced graphics than last year's launch Wii U games. Microsoft and Sony's machines are much more powerful than the Wii U, which is closer in graphical muscle to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Fils-Aime sounds unintimidated by the graphical disparity.
"Systems that generate pretty pictures by themselves aren't selling propositions," he said, "and all you need to do is look at the last generation to see the evidence. And that's true whether you look at the home console space or the handheld space. It's not about the graphics by itself. It's about the entire experience."
Fils-Aime has the weaker Wii's incredible success over the more powerful Xbox 360 and PS3 to point to, though it appears that the Wii ultimately faded early in part because it lagged behind in power. He can also point to the weaker DS' and 3DS' success over the more advanced PSP and Vita. Could he be right again? Are the most powerful game machines really going to struggle against or even lose to a weaker machine yet again this coming generation?